PCB design is a creative process that can be filled with some trial and error. It is virtually impossible to eliminate these mistarts from the process; however, by using project templates we can minimize them. At the most basic, project templates are effectively circuit “maps” that were designed previously that you can confidently use as a basis for your new design. In Altium Designer 18, this basic concept has been expanded, but before looking at the many advantages of using project templates for PCB design let’s define them further and see how to create them.
What are Project Templates?
Project templates are simply designs that have been previously created and are used to lessen the work necessary to design similar PCBs, PCB modules or individual components. Your board doesn’t always have to be that strenuous process of generation through PCB layout. When you have the circuit board already made, the job might be done easier. Templates may be used as is or they can be altered to accommodate specific requirements for your design, similar to reusing circuits for multi-channel design.
As in the case of multi-channel design, project templates must be easily accessible to engineers, PCB designers, and other team or organization members to be effective. Whether it is through schematic organization, footprints, or templates – having a database of previously used board designs can speed up the process for your whole team.
Although, the software Altium Designer provides is flexible enough to store templates in any location project templates are typically located on a managed server, such as the Altium Vault. Using a server not only provides a centralized storage location for the files but also has a well structured administrative control architecture in place. This is important for maintaining security and access level specificity.
With any good PCB design software, you’ll have access to a directory of boards and project templates to rely on. A sample directory structure for project templates housed in the Altium Vault is shown below, in Fig. 1.